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Phallus Dei - Black Dawn (2017) - Review

Band: Phallus Dei
Album title: Black Dawn
Release date: 17 March 2017
Label: Dark Vinyl Records

01. Slewed
02. Starman
03. Zauberwald
04. Krieger
05. Stigmata [CD bonus}
06. Corpus [LP bonus]

Black Dawn is the latest release from Phallus Dei; the veteran German industrial/darkwave project with an extensive discography who are currently celebrating their 25th anniversary since inception. Noted as "one of the most important industrial/darkwave projects of the 90s", they certainly do not fail to deliver with Black Dawn.

Phallus Dei would translate as 'God's Penis' or maybe 'Penis of God', a name which reminds me of the mysterious and sometimes notorious faction of the Catholic Church/Vatican known as Opus Dei or the 'Work of God'. The title Phallus Dei clearly has both sexual and religious connotations and this is also echoed throughout the band's aesthetics and iconography, as well as the overall sound and the feeling it evokes.

While Black Dawn utilises the darkwave and industrial sounds, there is also a definite influence from drone music such as Sunn O))) which also elicits a deeply religious/spiritual feeling; a primordial feeling that can be traced back through ritual music inherent in many cultures both modern and ancient; from the Buddhists to the Babylonians, the Celts, the Nords and even back to the pre-historical tribes of the Australian Aborigines and the didgeridoo as they danced around the campfire in the moonlit desert sands.

The Phallus itself has been an object of worship since the dawn of man, way back to the time of the flood and undoubtedly well before then. Ancient scholars maintain that Phallic worship as well as Yoni (Vagina) worship is amoung the earliest forms of worship; along with the worship of nature, esp. trees (with the Druids of Ireland) and serpents (with the Mesopotamians, the Egyptians and the indigenous Australians). Phallic/fertility worship predates even Sun worship. It can be seen in monuments such as the obelisk which can be found in most civilizations from Egypt, Sumeria, Phoenicia, Rome, Greece and modern day America with the Washington Monument; and probably many of you ladies still worship the phallus whenever you get the chance, some of you almost every night, and sometimes just after lunch. At the end of the day, the phallus and the yoni are indeed sacred and the source of all humans and most creatures past, present and future.

The opening track, "Slewed" is reminiscent of Sunn O))) with a massive textured and distorted drone sound taking off like a war jet into the desolate abyss that is the Black Dawn. It's destiny is the brutal and relentless carpet bombing of unsuspecting souls far below. The crashing of rough steel melds with the distorted drone sound adding tension to the overall scene as buildings begin to fracture and the primal chaos is unleashed as it has been so many times before. Crashing cymbals and electric squeaks carry the fleet onward, further into the darkness and the haze. The gate begins to open on the horizon, but a gate to what, to where? The air is thick and smog clogs the engines as you rattle forward into oblivion with squinted eyes and ringing ears.

The overall sound and use of texture is perfected throughout the album. The sound is thick, deep and satisfying and the texture is raw; just the way you like it. Definitely a case of 'less is more' with this album where the minimum is maximum and major concern is focused on the minor details. There is also a great variety of styles and approaches utilised throughout the album which separates each track from the others without breaking character. The base structure of each track is simple and repetitive while somehow avoiding becoming monotonous. The music is walking a fine line, like a tightrope walker effortlessly crossing between two buildings without hesitation or reservation. There is also the added variety of some well placed saxophone instrumental sections that really lift the listener to unexpected levels of appreciation. There is a definite pattern in which tension is created then sustained throughout each track and built upon tastefully before the listener is brought back down to rest easy at the end with a very definite conclusion. Quite brilliant.

I really could go on and on about this album but I probably shouldn't as you really should be listening to it and finding out what it has to offer for yourself. All put on your Sunday best and worship at the temple of Phallus Dei. The Black Dawn is upon us and the new day is full of promise and veneration.

Review written by: Evceles
Rating: 9/10